I expect many of you read my recent post about Rethinking Infidelity. In fact, many people have – it’s turned out to be one of my most popular posts yet (excluding the one about the dance concert, which I’ve promised never to talk about again).
As is her want, my mother, St. Rosemary, often gives me helpful hints on my blog. With the recent blog about Rethinking Infidelity, she said it all with her eyes and disapproving look – the title was too suggestive and smutty. I get that and respect that, mum. I thought I’d make up for it by putting words in St. Rosemary’s mouth. For those of you who have both the privilege and pleasure of knowing this fine lady will truly appreciate what I have to say. So readers, welcome to Marriage, according to St. Rosemary: Marriage as a Garden.
Marriage as a Garden
By St. Rosemary
One does not need to look far these days to see the crumbling state of both marriage and gardens. Since all those Greeks and Italians came to Australia after the White Australia Policy sadly fell apart, gardens in increasing number turned from the ideal to concrete rendered monstrosities, replete with those tawdry concrete statues in lewd poses. Of course, things only got worse when those Slavs came, with their grape-vines and their smoking sheds. I would talk about those Arabs, but in this current climate, I’ll leave that for much braver writers. Foreigners aside, marriage is much like a garden. When I say garden, I mean a proper one, not one of those Japanese ones full of rocks and minature trees. Why, stunting a trees natural growth is hardly normal or natural! I mean a proper English one, where tea and conversation can be enjoyed in equal measure.
Marriage, like a garden, is truly a labour of love.
Many people, especially the Chinese, believe that a garden is merely a functional aspect of the home, perfect for planting all manner of fruit and vegetables. Indeed, the practicalities of marriage are often enjoyable, as are the fruits of a garden. In my own marriage, I have seen many wonderful fruits. Just thinking about it makes me smile! There’s Philip, my favorite fruit. Thomas my kind, caring and altruistic fruit. Matthew, who didn’t technically come from my vine, but is a delight never the less. There’s sweet Benjamin who is such a darling when he’s asleep, Annie who brings me such joy. Finally, of course Peter, who, apart from his quick wit, roguishly handsome good looks and devastatingly charming disposition manages to remain humble.
Practicalities aside, marriage, like a garden, can bring a bouquet of joys to all who behold it. I’ve learned a great deal about marriage from gardening. One thing I’ve learned about gardening is that it’s something you need to do together. Now I’m sure many of you will scoff at this stage:
“But St. Rosemary, we’ve seen you and Ivica garden together, and it’s far from harmonious!”
To answer the critics, yes, sometimes it is hard working with someone who isn’t ‘from your own’, and let’s not beat around the bush, those Croats do have a reputation for short tempers! Of course, in the heat of the moment, it’s sometimes easy to lose track of what you are trying to achieve – a beautiful garden (and marriage). So when times get tough, don’t give up, press in!
Gardening, like marriage, requires you to have the right skills, the right tools, the willingness to experiment and a whole lot of patience. Why, I remember planting some natives once – boy was that a mistake! They are right when they say give those natives an inch and they’ll want all your land! It really gave me an insight into the hardships that Captain Cook would of faced all those years ago, when he landed in this now beautiful country of ours!
So I hear you asking “St. Rosemary, what are these tools you speak of?”
Well, I thought you’d never ask!
Seeds (or seedlings). You can’t expect to grow a rose garden if you plant weeds. Your marriage is exactly the same. You can’t expect to grow something beautiful if all you’ve sown is weeds (or natives). Good seeds will bear good fruit. Planting love, kindness, respect, understanding will produce the most beautiful fruit in your marriage.
Pruning and weeding. Sometimes in marriage, like with gardening, things truly just get on top of you. The business of life, sickness, distractions and even selfishness can let the weeds of discontent take over you marriage. Sometimes, you will need to get deep into the soil and get rid of the weeds choking your marriage. This can be hard! Some things can get stuck in your yard and seemingly never get out – such as an old piano or water tank, and despite YEARS of encouragement, it just stays there, gathering rust! So sometimes, you just need to hire a trailer and cart out all the rubbish in your yard. Hard work – yes! Worth it? Definitley! Then you can go back and plant proper plants again.
Sunlight. Every child in school learns the amazing process of photosynthesis. To be honest, I’ve forgotten most of that evolution nonsense, save for the knowledge that every garden, and every marriage, needs a lot of warmth. Simple, loving warmth. The light of the sun and the warmth of its rays bring life to a garden. Your marriage too will need warmth. Tenderness. Hugs. The intimacy of knowing your spouse is right there with you, regardless of what is happening.
Water. Water is the lifeblood of a garden. Water in a marriage is the communication you share. Starve a garden of water and it will quickly die. Starve a marriage of communication and it will quickly wilt. Be cautious, however! What happens if you blast seedlings or young plants with water? They rip through the garden, tearing it from the soil, ruining it! So some advice for wives – when your husband gets home, don’t burden him with your day, or the million things on your mind. Allow him to settle in, fix him a cup of tea, enquire about his day and allow him to feel relaxed before you burden him with your day. Remember, he’s been at work all day – the last thing on his mind is having to solve all your problems! Water, like communication, is all a matter of timing.
Fertiliser. Every garden relishes in extra nutrients. Your grass becomes greener. Your flowers become brighter. Trees become stronger and more hardy. Weeds are held at bay. Your marriage needs nutrients and fertilising, too, and it needs it regularly, too. Find out what really nourishes your spouse. It might be regular dates, going fishing, initiating conversation, watching football, loving touches, watching shows about fishing, organising domestic activities, chatting about that time you went fishing, being more involved with your children or a holiday where you plan on watching football and going fishing. What ever it is, find out what your partner needs and nourish them! It’s what turns a garden, and a marriage, into a true delight.
Sometimes, gardening can be hard yakka. Marriage too can push you to the limits. Missed communications, sickness, family pressures, unmatched expectations, parenting, financial strains and the rigors of modern life can really take a toll on a marriage.
Over the years, I’ve sowed much time and effort into both my garden and my marriage. I’ve sewn in tears, in joy, in heartache and in love, and probably everything in between. I know, however, that through all these years, I’ve had someone who’s been gardening with me. Someone who’s helped me pull out heavy weeds. Someone who’s laid down new turf when I’ve sprayed weed killer all over the lawn. Someone who I wholeheartedly agree with and wholeheartedly disagree with. Someone who’s supported me and who’s accepted my love in return. So Ivica, thank you for gardening with me. We’ve truly created something beautiful, something we can both take joy in and something we love.
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